Corruption - the Basque oasis?Peru Erroteta
It may seem, at a distance, that Euskadi is a kind of idyllic oasis in the arid landscape of corruption surrounding us. Nothing is further from reality. Using stealth, through well-established clientelist networks, burying scandals in a paralegal way (which is another form of theft) or other formulas, there are Basques who, like anyone else, manage to grab public money. The PNV takes the leading role.
On January 8th, the macro-trial of the widespread corruption case in Euskadi started: an extortion of 100,000 Euros that brought to light another 700,000 in commissions, 16 million in irregular operations and even an urban dream of 65 million. The 26 accused were seated on the bench and Alfredo de Miguel, "Txitxo" ex-number two of the PNV in Álava and ex-deputy was placed as the brain of the plot. The case was uncovered by a businesswoman who went to the Prosecutor's Office with 24 recordings that showed that the payment in exchange for adjudications was "business as usual".
The chaos goes back to March 16th, 2010 when, along with Txitxo, two other leaders of the Araba Buru Batzar of the PNV, Aitor Tellería and Koldo Ochandiano, the wives of the tree of them, a businessperson, Jon Iñaki Echaburu, and the manager of a public company, Alfonso Arriola. A few months earlier, in December 2009, the young businesswoman Ainhoa Alberdi had approached the prosecutor's office with sound recordings and emails. Vizcaína and city planning lawyer, explained that she was associated in the company Urbanorma Consulting with the builder Jon Iñaki Echaburu, who had left the company.
Urbanorma Consulting had recently received the contract the technology park expansion in Miñano, just outside Vitoria, whose manager was the nationalist Alfonso Arriola.
In a recording, Tellería is heard saying: "From one place or another, we have to extract what corresponds to us. It is like that, because if we do not, we are all screwed." There are also emails in which De Miguel -without any responsibility in Miñano- negotiates amounts with Alberdi. Records would then appear handwritten annotations alluding to "commissions" and "black" money. Nothing new under the sun. The same protagonists and identical procedures to those in many other causes of corruption in Spain, and a similar slowness in the processing of the judicial case.
In a report that marked a before and after in the investigation, the Police discovered that one of the companies involved, Errexal, had received payments equivalent to 4% of public works contracts awarded in municipalities governed by the PNV, specifically Zigoitia and Lapuebla of Labarca.
The invoices were camouflaged as supposed consulting services, a mechanism similar to the Gürtel or Punic cases.
Errexal also profited from more than a dozen contracts awarded directly by the Government for the provision of services that also do not appear to have actually been done. In total, the operations investigated amount to 15,536,637.36 Euros. The failed requalification of 120 hectares in the small Alava town of Zambrana, an estimated project of 65 million Euros, is not included in this calculation.
Those implicated, Alfredo de Miguel and Aitor Tellería, took ten months to hand back their Peneuvist political party militant cards, something that only happened after receiving the private visit, without flashing lights or stenographers, of the almighty Guipuzcoan leader, Joseba Egibar, to make them submit to reason. The same person who, when De Miguel had to go to the Basque Parliament to give explanations to the parliamentary investigation commission, he vigorously embraced the alleged criminal. Everything for the cameras.
On June 4th, at the midpoint of the trial, three of the defendants received 170,000 Euros in compensation for "unfair dismissal". Alfredo De Miguel and Aitor Tellería each received 22,190 Euros in compensation, while the former president of the network of technology parks, Julián Sánchez, pocketed 128,692 Euros.
The Prosecutor's Office is demanding a total of 54 years of imprisonment for De Miguel, and is charged with a total of 27 crimes, among which are illicit association, money laundering, fraud in hiring, malfeasance, bribery, coercion, falsification of documents, continued embezzlement of public funds, influence peddling...